MSNBC Host Lawrence O’Donnell Declares Trump Supporters “Liars” And Refuses To Have Them On Show

500px-MSNBC_2015_logo.svgSome of us have been highly critical of the trend in media toward “echo-journalism” where cable networks tailor their coverage to reinforce and repeat the expectations of their viewers.  Few hosts are willing to admit to the formula coverage, though there have been telling moments.  None have been open than Lawrence O’Donnell on  The Al Franken Podcast when he declared that MCNBC was completely over the need to present two sides of coverage on Trump because defenders of Trump are “liars” and “I don’t bring on a liar.” It is that simple.  The other side is just lies so only our side needs to be reported.

As someone who once worked for NBC and MSNBC (and has appeared on O’Donnell’s show), I was astonished by the statement. I always found him to be an intelligent and perceptive person in our past dealings.  He should not want to work in a mere media echo chamber.

I am not sure what is more chilling: the suggestion that CNN is too far to Trump or the declaration that MSNBC has now abandoned even the pretense of balance. O’Donnell’s statement drew no correction or rebuke from NBC or MSNBC.  He was responding to a statement by Franken that CNN is a network which “[plays] it down the middle, except we hate Trump.”  That was at least a recognition of the bias at CNN, but strangely O’Donnell did not view it biased enough. Indeed, he suggests that CNN is preferred by Trump because it gives a balanced view but MSNBC discards with any such pretense:

AL FRANKEN: So, I want to ask you about cable news because you’ve got CNN, which is sort of, “We’re playing it down the middle except we hate Trump.”

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: No, they don’t. One third of the people on their payroll love Trump. So, you’re guaranteed on any hour of CNN to, minimum, one third of the programming will be supportive of Trump. Someone on their payroll saying, “Here’s why Trump is right.”

FRANKEN: Well, they bring someone on to do that. Their hosts don’t do that.

O’DONNELL: Their hosts don’t. But that’s one of the reasons Trump kind of wants you do watch CNN instead of MSNBC.


O’DONNELL: Because he knows on MSNBC there will be no one defending him because we don’t bring on liars. I don’t bring on a liar. I won’t do that. And there’s no one on CNN —

FRANKEN: Are you saying that to defend  Trump, you have to lie?

O’DONNELL: Yes, absolutely.

FRANKEN: Of course. Of course.

O’DONNELL: How else do you defend a liar, a pathological liar who lies about everything? You have to lie. So, CNN has people on the payroll who they basically pay to tell their lies to the CNN audience in the middle of, you know, a CNN hour for some number of minutes.


FRANKEN: So, you’re the progressive station. Fair to say?

O’DONNELL: Yeah, I’ll take that. I believe that what I do in my hour, what Rachel does, what Chris Hayes does, we discuss everything in a completely honest way and that sounds partisan in today’s era because the Republican Party is just non-stop lying.

There was a time when MSNBC would have been quick to correct such statements, including the idea that the entire network is there for one part of the electorate.

I recently wrote a column noting this one-sided approach to stories like attacking Republican senators for defending Trump before the trial but not Democratic senators for pronouncing his guilt.  Thus, in a column on such statements, MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance objected only that “some of the jurors have already committed to vote for the defendant.”  The reshaping of MSNBC as pure partisan advocacy has led to serious misjudgments like the airing of an unvetted allegation recently against President Trump.  O’Donnell apologized for that story on the air.  O’Donnell often takes jabs at Fox News for being one-sided but it appears that his objection is not with any bias but the wrong bias.  In reality, Fox News routinely has far more diversity of opinion than MSNBC, including considerable criticism of Trump who has repeatedly lashed out at the network.  Hosts like Chris Wallace has delivered some of the most stinging interviews with the President.

This is why this country is so rigidly divided. Media hosts now proudly declare that they will tailor the news to fit their view of truth and bar those who disagree as liars. In this case, a viewer can sit and watch O’Donnell and not hear a single thing that challenges their assumptions or bias.  No wonder people are so angry when they only receive news in such media silos maintained by hosts like O’Donnell.

102 thoughts on “MSNBC Host Lawrence O’Donnell Declares Trump Supporters “Liars” And Refuses To Have Them On Show”

  1. The bigotry against Republicans is ugly. I really think the Democrat Party has gone astray with all this hate. Why aren’t the moderate Democrats regaining control of the party?

    This is not the party of my grandparents. I know not every Democrat is hateful and bigoted. The trend appears to have gotten away from them.

  2. If MSNBC ever counted as a news organization, it was 20 years ago.

    You’re not getting it. People drawn to word-merchant occupations and who retain their positions within them have strong emotional biases which set them apart from the rest of the population. An interesting sociological or social-psychological question is why that is. It wasn’t so 90 years ago, when the opinions of those in intellectual and artistic subcultures on social and political questions ran the gamut and institutions of higher education were commonly staffed from distinct subcultures. Why has Monovox grown to be such a problem in higher education, the media, corporate HR, tech companies, &c.? Why the gleichschaltung? Jonathan Haidt has been exploring this question. Why not post on his writings?

    NB, there isn’t an analogous situation in any other sector. Generally, the starboard in this country is an omnibus of people dissatisfied with the regnant ideology among purveyors of mass entertainment and public discussion. The only non-liberal institutions are foundationally and explicitly intentional: the Republican Party and allied political organization, policy shops like AEI (whose collective population of fellows would hardly fill the faculty positions at a couple of colleges), a couple of media companies, a modest collection of private colleges at the very margins of academe (which aren’t free from Vichy types on their faculty and in their administration), a few religious denominations (who are seldom explicitly political and often infiltrated by Vichy types), and sundry NGOs like Focus on the Family. Corporate philanthropy can be very destructive to conventional institutions (see the Boy Scouts). Any sort of philanthropy (corporate or off-hours) which favors starboard causes provokes rage among liberals (see the Koch brothers, the DeVos family, Chick Fil-A, and Hobby Lobby).

    You see you have another problem: not only are purveyors of culture almost uniformly leftist, they have the minds and hearts of hysterical children. Your commenter Natacha is a lurid example, but still an example. Absolutely none of your other portside commenters are willing to critique her in any way.

    1. Absurd, if one was grading your comment on smarmy dismissiveness, this would be an ‘A’. But graded on expository conclusiveness, it would be an ‘Incomplete’. And this illustrates the handicap you seem incapable of overcoming: ‘Terminal Smarminess’. It affects writers obsessed with sounding like bombastic living legends. Like “I’m the H.L. Mencken of this comment thread”.

      1. The term ‘smarmy’ does not mean what you fancy it means. Neither does ‘dismissiveness’. Stick to your regular vocabulary, Shill.

  3. So let me get this straight. Turley is complaining because the 8-11 block on MSNBC is more partisan than Fox, with Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity?
    None of the MSNBC hosts were ever advising Obama. The same cannot be said for the Trump advisors who occupy their prime time host chairs.

    1. Ray in Bowie,
      That O’Donnell is a partisan hack is not a new discovery, and not the point of this column.
      The new twist added by O’Donnell was that he would not allow Trump supporters on his show.

    2. Carlson and Ingraham regularly have Chris Hahn and Richard Goodstien on among others defending all things Democrat. Ingrahan always has Leo Terrell on the same panel as someone like Candace Owens. Carlson regularly has a liberal, black college professor. But he may not count. He is liberal in the classic sense — not a progressive with TDS.

  4. Important to note: When figures of authority or advanced knowledge tell the public what to do many in the public follow what they say even if it is against what they would normally do or morally do. Authority figures can be dangerous and to many O’Donnell and people like him are authority figures. That can bode badly in the coming years.

    If one has never read the Milgram Experiment one should do so in order to realize how easy it is for a good people to turn bad.

  5. NBC has tacitly declared its fealty to the left wing of the Democratic Party by retaining the bigoted loudmouth Lawrence O’Donnell as an employee and giving him a soapbox in MSNBC on which to vent his spleen. They’ve joined CNN as an infotainment network, no longer a serious venue for news reporting.

    Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi has been exploring (in a series of columns and books, lincluding “Hate, Inc.”) how “infotainment” polarizes the United States politiically for profit. There’s no excuse for this.

    The problem is that journalism, in its long history, only fitfully climbs out of the gutter of sensationalism and political polarization. The Canons of Journalism are now rarely mentioned and even less often followed by major news organizations.

    The result in the case of the “Covington kid” Nicholas Sandmann, who was lied about repeatedly buy journalists working for CNN and other news organizations for wearing a red hat while a Native American walked up to him and beat a drum in his face, has so far been an unpublished monetary settlement in Sandmann’s favor by CNN, with the prospect of more to come.

    Why? CNN made money libelling young Mr. Sandmann. So did several other major news organizations. Nicholas Sandmann’s family had to move from their home temporarily and he was wrongly suspended from school for these lucrative libels, but no apologies ensued from CNN after the settlement, and Fox News is the only news organization that has covered the settlement.

    Lying about children pays off so much in ratings and circulation that American journalism does it and doesn’t apologize. Lawrence O’Donnell routinely tells lies about other people being liars – and NBC/MSNBC and their advertisers love it.

    1. loupgarous – the reason the other channels are not covering the Sandmann settlement is that they are either currently being sued or are about to be sued.

      1. That is easily dealt with Paul C Schulte – they report the story, noting that their company is also facing a lawsuit on the same situation. Problem solved…except that they build the expectation that the result will be reported on. Can’t have that, so no story at all.

        1. I think Paul’s right – any decent attorney would counsel a news organization being sued for libel not to report on the person suing them when that plaintiff’s case is sound. There’s no real upside to such reporting, or even an apology for what seemed to me to be malicious comments about Nicholas Sandmann by journalists who should understand what is and is not fair comment. Anything like that would be read aloud in court and entered into evidence by Sandmann’s attorney if the other news organizations choose to defend their suits and not to settle with the young man they libelled.

          The Greeks’ goddess of shame, modesty, respect, and humility was named Eidos. Modern journalism doesn’t seem to believe in honoring the Judaeo-Christian commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness”. Perhaps devotions to Eidos might be a easier slope to climb back toward morality for them. A working sense of respect for others and humility would have saved CNN and these other news organizations a lot of trouble. A public statement that they are ashamed of what they did to Nicholas Sandmann and others they’ve abused to attract readers and advertisers might get some people to believe them again.

        1. loupgarous – my understanding is that PBS, Gannett, etc., will be in the 2nd round of defendants.

  6. like I have been saying for three years president trump is driving the dems & liberals insane.

  7. “O’DONNELL: How else do you defend a liar, a pathological liar who lies about everything? You have to lie. … we discuss everything in a completely honest way and that sounds partisan in today’s era because the Republican Party is just non-stop lying.”

    Prairie, I think it would be good for you to note what O’Donnell said on national TV. None of that is true and therefore he is a liar and lying on almost a continuous basis where Trump is concerned.

    Go ahead and tell me that what I just said isn’t civil and that I should write a lengthy paper that no one reads to prove my point and demonstrate why he is wrong.

  8. Hilarious how O’Donnell, via his statement, proves he is a liar. But he’s too ignorant to see his lies and hypocrisy. He is neither intelligent nor perceptive – and intelligent and perceptive people have seen this for the last decade.

    1. Just finished reading Hate INC. by Matt Taibbi. He explains this all in detail.

      1. It’s important to realize here that Matt Taibbi is no Trump fan. He’s very candid about what he believes Trump does to tarnish his own image, just as Professor Turley does. But Matt Taibbi is also very candid about what too many “mainstream press” organziations do to tarnish their own images, all the pandering to political partisanism and hatred in their political reporting.

        Taibbi’s Hate, Inc, is a clearly written and easy-to-read appreciation the press’s new product – “infotainment” that would be right at home in the pages of George Orwell’s 1984 dealing with Ingsoc’s “two-minute hate” meetings.

        Lawrence O’Donnell has already decided his slot at MSNBC will specialize in nourishing hate at the expense of coherent journalistic analysis.

  9. To many of us who are now referred to as “deplorables” the rotten partisan nature of most of the media has been apparent for at least a decade or more. My question to You is what took you so long and why would you not have noticed this from MSNBC in particular until just now. Willfully ignorant is no way to go through this life.

    1. Agnew gave a famous/infamous speech about the liberal media in 1969. It’s impossible to argue rationally against his observations.

  10. “Moe! Larry! Cheese!”.
    To the folks on the blog. Where does the Moe! Larry, Cheese! Statement come from?
    If you said “The Three Stooge” , then you are correct. Larry on the MSNBC show is like a Stooge. One of three.

  11. So Steny Hoyer thinks Trump should have to prove his innocence. Just a little contempt for the constitution. Do any of these morons realize that somewhere in the future when the Republicans control the house they may try to pull this crap on a Democrat president.

    1. Oh they realize it alright but the lust for absolute power is stronger in them and makes them willing to risk that kind of political suicide.

      1. They count on Republicans being quiet and letting Democrats get away with their outrageous behavior while at the same time eat away at the US Constitution.

    2. They did already. One of Trump’s attorneys, Ken Starr, was on the back end of investigating a land deal which morphed into lying about a BJ.
      Maybe we should, like Starr, keep interviewing Trump’s mistresses until we locate one who Trump paid to have an abortion.

  12. Maybe even three thumbs down. For mere mention of MSNBC or CNN.

    And talk about lies… the country’s not “rigidly divided,” the overwhelming majority are Trump supporters. And this is not “echo-journalism” – what is it is televised political commentary.

    And these are not journalists, they are paid state stooges – they receive a daily briefing, a daily outline, and a list of catch-phrases. The only thing echoing from their mouths are these by-words, catch-phrases, triggers, as they tick them off simultaneously.

    If ever there was commie TV, state owned progs, this is it. And in “America,” no less – can you imagine?

  13. justus homes

    if he did that, there wouldn’t be much time left for exposing the most outrageously
    crazy things Trump said or did on any given day.

    Way to go, Lawrence O.

  14. For most people the media as a whole is no longer a source for anything but the time. They’re just background noise, like the street sounds to New Yorkers, the sounds of a babbling brook and the wind rustling in the trees for nature loving off griders or like Jim Jones voice was for his order following disciples.

  15. The press (rightfully) has received special protections under the law. Society has united in granting the press a special place – earned by its importance to preserving our democratic system.

    When O’Donnell chooses sides and actively undermines a two party system, he no longer deserves that consideration.

    Unfortunately, much of the press is determined to follow that partisan path and become propaganda arms of one party.

    And the Dems – who both benefit from and enjoy the spectacle – encourage people like O’Donnell regardless of the long term damage to the system.

    Shame on O’Donnell and the Dems – they are damaging our system.

    1. When royalty, Harry and Meghan for example, abdicate their position, they are no longer entitled to the privileges, perks and protections they enjoyed when they were fulfilling the responsibilities and Duties of their Offices.
      Since the Fourth Estate has abdicated their responsibilities, duties and purpose, most people feel they no longer deserve to enjoy the Constitutional protections afforded them and don’t bother to even defend them because they don’t deserve it anymore.
      That’s how it works in the post Constitutional Era.
      Only those deemed worthy of Constitutional Protections are allowed to have them.
      What better way to make people feel self righteously pleased to be on board with the slow march toward complete dismantlement of the Constitution than to take one desensitizing baby step at a time for one carefully vilified group at a time?
      It’s especially easy when the ones that are targeted to have their Rights and Protections stripped, actively and very enthusiastically proudly join the parade marching toward their own predetermined destiny.

    1. Lawrence O’Donnell entered the batcrap crazy zone over a decade ago, when he called Rep. Zell Miller a “liar” for bucking the Democrats’ position on an issue, and after that, denounced Mitt Romney for being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He’s a walking embarrassment to NBC and MSNBC.

    1. That certainly has been the FOX”News” claim for a very long time.

      As for allowing liars on his show, I think it would be more fun if he just flashed a sign that said lie every time someone lied!

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